Friday, August 8, 2014

Recycled to Modern

I remember going to the Denyse Schmidt show at the NE Quilt Museum awhile back and an older lady whispered to me "There's no such thing as modern quilting, just new quilters that don't know we've already done it all."  At the time I thought maybe the chip on her shoulder was causing her to oversimplify, but after checking out the recent Quilts and Color exhibit at the MFA a few times, I have to admit she's got a point.  I mean, yes, there are new interpretations of old patterns and techniques, new ways things get put together, new color combinations and perspectives, but all of it has some foundation (piecing, ha ha) in what's already been done.  

What I realized at Quilts and Color is, that's what I LIKE about quilting - none of it's new, but it's all new to me, and I can make it without the calico.  My favorite moment of this exhibit was when I came around a corner and saw this quilt from the 1840s. 

You can't tell from the picture, but that's a red calico!

How had the modern Orange You Glad You Married Me quilt I made for my husband last year gotten onto a wall at the MFA?  I mean, I'm flattered, but I remembered sleeping under it just last night!


After this discovery I started comparing all the quilts to things I had made. The wedding rings picnic blanket I did for a friend?

This 1940 unknown African-American quilter from Missouri version seems, well, more modern:

My economy square?

That pattern's been around since at least 1840, albeit without the cats:

I don't mean to come across as a complete narcissist - after I got done comparing all the quilts to my own, I just stood back in awe of the color combos (that was the point of the exhibit)

That border, with all those skinny stripes echoing the inside!

I love this border - I will recycle this idea soon!

I actually don't love this quilt, but I'm in awe of it

My favorite color combination of all time

And the mind-blowing handwork.  Can you imagine piecing this star so precisely by hand? I can hardly imagine doing it with a machine.  That's a life's work there.  Just amazing.

And the applique quilts without the use of fusible web, spray baste or a machine set on zig-zag? I dedicated two months to my first needle-turn project - the corners are unbearable, the patience and precision are just... well it was just awful.  It's nice to feel like the pain of that project is finally serving a purpose.  Now I can look at a quilt like this and realize how close to inhuman the workmanship is.  It's a new experience for me - to get emotional over a piece of art, not because of what it looks like, but because I understand the love and determination and patience that must've gone into creating it.  It makes me a little sad that the quilter doesn't know her work is hanging in the MFA right now.

I mistook this Mennonite for a Hawaiian.
Who knew they had so much in common?
It was an education in color theory for sure, but this exhibit was also inspiring in so many other ways.  Feeling grateful to be learning all that I am.

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